The reproductive biology of Saccharum spontaneum L. : implications for management of this invasive weed in Panama

  • Saccharum spontaneum L. is an invasive grass that has spread extensively in disturbed areas throughout the Panama Canal watershed (PCW), where it has created a fire hazard and inhibited reforestation efforts. Currently physical removal of aboveground biomass is the primary means of controlling this weed, which is largely ineffective and does little to inhibit spread of the species. Little is known about reproduction of this species, although it is both rhizomatous and produces abundant seed. Here we report a series of studies looking at some of the basic reproductive mechanisms and strategies utilised by S. spontaneum to provide information to support development of better targeted management strategies. We found that seed produced between September and November was germinable both in the lab and in situ. Genetic diversity of mature stands was assessed using microsatellite markers and found to be high, even at small scales. Studies of vegetative reproduction showed that buds on stems that had been dried for up to six weeks were still capable of sprouting. Separate experiments showed that stem fragments could sprout when left on the surface or buried shallowly and that larger pieces sprouted more readily than smaller pieces. Collectively these results demonstrate that S. spontaneum in the PCW has the capability to produce many propagules that can successfully recruit and it is likely that seed dispersal drives the spread of the species. Timing of management actions to reduce flowering would significantly reduce the seed load into the environment and help to prevent spread to new sites. Similarly, where biomass is cut, cutting stems into smaller pieces will allow the stems to dry out and reduce the ability of buds to sprout. Additionally, attention should be paid to prevent accidental transport to new sites on machinery.

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Author:Graham D. Bonnett, Josef N. S. Kushner, Kristin Saltonstall
Parent Title (English):NeoBiota
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2014/07/31
Date of first Publication:2014/01/24
Publishing Institution:Universit├Ątsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2014/07/31
Tag:Invasive species; asexual reproduction; microsatellite; seed germination
Page Number:19
First Page:61
Last Page:79
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 58 Pflanzen (Botanik) / 580 Pflanzen (Botanik)
Sammlungen:Sammlung Biologie / Sondersammelgebiets-Volltexte
Zeitschriften / Jahresberichte:NeoBiota / NeoBiota 20
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 3.0